Reflections

The Great Lungi/Dhoti Divide

(How do you pass off a veshti, alternatively called dhoti, in a laundry which doesn’t have the traditional attire in its list of washable garments? Well, that’s a million dollar question I had often been confronted with, here at Jindal. Left with little choice, I include it under the ‘Bed sheets’ column. Bed Sheets. To all the Dhoti patrons and ‘staunchists’, I concede you might not be impressed, but can’t help it!)

Now, having confessed to my ‘unearthly’ deed, I shall shift the focus of this blog post towards a raging debate that warrants my personal interdiction. It’s what I refer to as the Great Lungi/Dhoti divide.

Last summer, I returned to the university with a crisp new dhoti. Truth to be told, I knew I was in for quite a reception from friends and hostel mates, as and when they ever caught me in one. After few weeks, freshly emboldened with desire, I wore it with a sattai (shirt). Venturing out of the room, I immediately ran into a neighbour. “Arey.. Kya baat! Lungi huh?” “Dei, Dei (with a exasperated groan), this is, for your information, not a Lungi. It is called A DHOTI!”

Been in this situation before, I engaged him in an conversation aimed solely at his enlightenment. The fundamental distinguishing factor between the two, I painstakingly clarified, is the presence of a partition in the Dhoti, unlike in the Lungi for which one would need to ‘step in’. Then, there are other less significant differences like; Dhoti comes predominantly in white, whereas the Lungi, is what one would call, a bit more extravagant with its colourful patterns. While the latter is primarily a domestic garment, for common usage within home confines, the Dhoti is seen as an symbol of propriety and virtue. Having listened patiently, his impassive face soon broke into a wide grin. “Ayee, I was just pulling your leg.” “Of course, you were.”

This particular incident happened many months back and lest I forget, the then newly released Chennai Express certainly didn’t help matters. If Yo-Yo Honey Singh wasn’t famous enough, his crooning of “Lungi dancu” firmly entrenched the name in my mind. If “Why this Kolaveri” had people, in IIMC, badgering me to do a karaoke, now, worse still, I had to ward of a substantial number of them pestering me to do a Lungi dancu!

On Monday evening, travelling in the metro after office, a colleague at The Caravan enquired, “Hey. You said that you were writing a article on Lungi, right? What’s up with it?” It came across as an genuine query. “Oh yeah, I am. Hoping to post it anytime soon.” Slightly encouraged, I sheepishly asked whether he knew the Lungi/Dhoti difference. “Yes. I did see Chennai Express, didn’t I!” (Face Palm)    

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